Irmgard Flügge-Lotz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Flügge-Lotz in 1970

Irmgard Flügge-Lotz, née Irmgard Lotz (16 July 1903 - 22 May 1974) was a German mathematician and engineer, best known for her work on the mathematics of aerodynamics, and for being the first female engineering professor at the Stanford University.


Lotz was born in Hamelin, Germany on 16 July 1903.[1] After her father, Osark, a travelling journalist,[2] was drafted for military service in World War I, the young Irmgard helped the family by becoming a math tutor. By high school and through college, she practically supported her family single-handedly. In college she was often the only woman in her class. In 1929 she earned a doctorate in engineering, but she had a tough time getting engineering jobs. Lotz went to work for the Aerodynamics Institute in Göttingen. After she solved a peculiarly thorny equation pertaining to wing lift distribution called the "Lotz-Methode" (Lotz-Method), Lotz was promoted to team leader. In 1938, she married Wilhelm Flügge, a civil engineer, and the pair moved first to Berlin and later to the small town of Saulgau.

After World War II, there was no need for the Flügges to undergo a denazification investigation, and they moved to France, and later to the United States, where they taught at Stanford. Flügge-Lotz started new engineering courses dealing with the mathematics of aerodynamics. She worked on what she called "discontinuous automatic control," which laid the foundation for automatic on-off aircraft control systems in jets. In spite of suffering debilitating arthritis, Flügge-Lotz continued her engineering research even through retirement.

Flügge-Lotz died in Stanford Hospital on 22 May 1974 after a long illness.[1]


  • Die Erwärmung des Stempels beim Stauchvorgang, Dissertation TH Hannover 1929
  • Discontinuous Automatic Control, Princeton University Press 1953[3]
  • Discontinuous and Optimal Control, McGraw Hill 1968


  • J. R. Spreiter & W. Flügge, Irmgard Flügge-Lotz in Louise S. Grinstein (Editor), Paul J. Campbell (Editor) (1987). Women of Mathematics: A Bio-Bibliographic Sourcebook. Greenwood Press, New York. ISBN 978-0-313-24849-8.  p. 33-40

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Spreiter, John R.; Van Dyke, Milton D. and Vincenti, Walter G. "Irmgard Flügge-Lotz" (pdf). Memorial Resolution. Stanford University. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  2. ^ Cooper, Julie; Banderas, Maria (May 1977). "Irmgard Flugge-Lotz". Biographies of Women Mathematicians. Agnes Scott College. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  3. ^ Bellman, R. (1954). "Review: Discontinuous automatic control, by I. Flügge-Lotz". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 60 (4): 401–402. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1954-09831-2. 

External links[edit]

This article incorporates material from Irmgard Flügge-Lotz on PlanetMath, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.